Sun is breaking through the morning fog and deliciously warming my face and shoulders, but the mornings are cooler these days and brilliant red leaves flare out of the wild green grape vine. Too early for summer’s end yet, a hot spell coming in September, but the signs are there: the sun rising a bit farther south on the eastern horizon each morning, shadows lengthening in the garden, the slanted light of autumn emerging as the tilted earth makes its annual journey around the sun. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
Next week, my husband and I are supposed to join some friends at a big old rambling brown-shingled house in the lower Sierras for a few days. We’ve done this many times before, as did my parents and the parents of the friends. It’s a wonderful house, surrounded by pine forest. There’s swimming and walking and long leisurely afternoons reading on the wrap-around porch overlooking the lake. It’s a second-generation tradition, hard to break, but the closer it gets, the less I want to go.
My oldest friend will be there. She drinks too much and thinks all Arab women are oppressed. Our hostess is stridently liberal, will froth and foam about the Romney-Ryan combo while continuing to believe Native Americans are stuck in poverty from ignorance and sloth. My brother will drink too much and get into political arguments that are less about content than they are about scoring points. And yet, and yet…They are kind and decent people in so many ways, I find it baffling they have these opinions. But I’m tired of arguing with them. They don’t change my mind and I don’t change theirs. And in the evening, when they’re all drinking glass after glass of wine, they become obnoxious.
Why did I accept the invitation? I suppose because I like the idea of it: the beauty of the place, the years of friendship, the tradition passed down from our parents. There’s a lot of laughter, too, and personal stories, and whacky badminton games, croquet balls bouncing over pine twigs, pingpong on the back porch, waking to the songs of scores of birds.
And then there’s this, a thought that drifted through my mind during morning meditation: do I not want to go because it really isn’t any fun, or because I lack the energy to interact with people these days? Realistic expectation or depression? I don’t know, just know that I’m waffling, as I do every year.